Pastor Marrion P'Udongo has been called the "Oskar Schindler" of Congo, a man who's dedicated himself to saving and nurturing the lives of others in one of the world's most deadliest wars. In 2003, as militia sacked the town of Bunia in northeastern Congo and executed hundreds of their ethnic rivals in the streets, the pastor sheltered scores of people in his home and miraculously guided them to safety. In the years since, his one-man ministry has reached deep into the forest to help rehabilitate child soldiers, allowing them the chance to live once again as children. He's also helped insure the welfare of those children whose parents were killed by this devastating war. In order to finance this mission and support his family, Pastor Marrion established himself as the ace fixer and interpreter for the world's leading news agencies who cover the conflict, including the New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Agence
France-Presse, BBC, PBS, NPR, and ABC's Nightline. If you've read a story about Congo in recent years, or seen one on television, the pastor probably helped produce it.
In July 2010, Pastor Marrion was diagnosed with acute renal failure and nearly died. After a year of intense fundraising, we managed to raise enough for the pastor to receive a kidney transplant on May 26 at Nairobi Hospital. Some complications have kept the pastor hospitalized while the kidney responds and heals. The transplant and subsequent care have nearly exhausted our funds, so we still desperately need your help!
This effort is being spearheaded by journalist Bryan Mealer, photographers Marcus Bleasdale, Riccardo Gangale, and filmmaker Taylor Krauss, who have all worked with pastor in Congo and not only value him as a trusted colleague, but as a dear and close friend.
In a country short on heroes, the pastor's presence is immense. To a community broken and scattered by a decade of fighting, his constant presence was like a lighthouse flickering home. Over the past several years, his contribution has been huge. With modest donations from fellow pastors and traders, he started a primary school in the Tagba displaced camp near Lake Albert for over 400 children. He also helps operate the St. Kizito Orphanage in Bunia, which looks after over a hundred children who's parents died in the war. In a conflict where local journalists are often targeted and murdered, the pastor is also one of the only remaining fixers to work with foreign media. For years, he's helped give voice to thousands of people victimized and displaced by violence, and more specifically, to the countless number of women and girls in eastern Congo who are raped each year by soldiers and militia and who receive no justice.
clock is ticking, and without a healthy, functioning kidney, the pastor will certainly die. His
wife and children will lose a beloved husband, father, and breadwinner. Without the pastor in the field, the country loses a hero and a leader, while the voices of those he's championed go forever unheard.
We Need & What You Get
Having paid for the transplant, our goal now is to raise enough to cover immediate hospitalization and medicine, as well as living expenses for his wife, Julienne, who's stood by Pastor's side since this odyssey began. Once he's out of the hospital, we'll need to help the pastor with medication and doctor visits until he's fully recovered and able to work. For us, this journey isn't over until Pastor Marrion is back home in Bunia, working, preaching, and helping rebuild his proud country. But right now, the hospital bills are quickly mounting. Without payment, the hospital could refuse to provide care. So we need your help!
Other Ways You Can Help
- Tell your friends and colleagues and link this site to your Facebook
and Twitter pages. Also, if you're a member of a church, please share this story with the congregation and ask if they'd be willing to take a collection.
"The pastor was a legend throughout Ituri, Congo, a kind of black Moses whod served the years of war and displacement as a lighthouse for the broken and scattered. He was a roly-poly man with a megaphone voice and goofy belly laugh, which, when triggered, caused his round eyes to disappear behind thick bifocals. The pastors sermons stirred people into dancing frenzies. Women ran out of their houses to kiss his cheek whenever he passed through villages, and men on the roads bowed to him and waved. Militia commanders softened in his presence, and even the most bogey-eyed gunboys dropped the mask when he passed, regarding him like a fun-loving uncle up from the city. That charisma had saved not only the pastors life, but the lives of many others. ---Bryan Mealer, All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo.